The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) has temporarily suspended demonstrations next Monday to give dialogue a chance as MPs failed to agree on proposed amendments to reform the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Senator Johnstone Muthama, the protests co-convener, Wednesday said the demos would resume a week later if the Jubilee government fails to initiate dialogue on the fate of the IEBC.
Three people died during Monday’s protests following street battles with police officers in Nairobi and several other towns as Cord led by Raila Odinga pushes for IEBC commissioners to leave office.
Cord has accused the IEBC of being biased saying it is working to rig next year’s General Election in Jubilee’s favour, a charge the electoral team has dismissed.
“We are waiting to hear from the highest echelons of Jubilee over calls for dialogue,” Siaya Senator James Orengo who spoke alongside Mr Muthama said.
“We must involve all stakeholders. Dialogue is for all Kenyans. There must be some level of agreement outside Parliament. Sovereignty lies with the people of Kenya.”
In Parliament, the Justice and Legal Affairs committee failed to agree on a way forward on whether the Issack Hassan led IEBC will be replaced by commissioners nominated by the Public Service Commission (PSC) or a team appointed by the two major coalitions in Parliament.
Samuel Chepkonga, who chairs the committee, adjourned the meeting to next Tuesday to allow MPs to consult further.
“We will be meeting once again on Tuesday to reach a final decision on the issue of the IEBC,” he said.
Religious leaders and ambassadors from western nations have called on the two sides to dialogue on the issues to avert an escalation of tension ahead of the August 2017 polls.
There are fears that the continued discord could escalate to violence after the elections.
Over 1,000 people died in 2007/08 during post-election violence after a disputed vote. The opposition also disputed the 2013 results. President Uhuru Kenyatta has said that the changes to IEBC can only be made through a lawful processes in Parliament.
Suspension of the opposition protests will offer a reprieve to business owners in Nairobi’s central business district (CBD), Kisumu, Kakamega and Mombasa who suffered huge losses on Monday as they shut down for most of the day for fear of looting by thugs taking advantage of the Cord protests.
Cord leaders said that they had accepted calls by the international community and various groups to suspend the demos and were ready for dialogue but that they had not yet received any gestures, either directly or indirectly from Jubilee for a dialogue.